Spanish death train driver may have passed out
Published 05/07/2006 | 00:11
SPAIN'S worst ever underground train crash in which 41 people were killed was caused by the engine going at twice the normal speed and the possibility the driver passed out, officials said yesterday. Black box data showed the train in Valencia on Spain's east coast was doing 80kph on a curve through a tunnel - twice the normal speed - when it derailed on Monday.
SPAIN'S worst ever underground train crash in which 41 people were killed was caused by the engine going at twice the normal speed and the possibility the driver passed out, officials said yesterday.
Black box data showed the train in Valencia on Spain's east coast was doing 80kph on a curve through a tunnel - twice the normal speed - when it derailed on Monday, the city's transport chief Jose Ramon Garcia said in a statement.
Officials were waiting for the result of an autopsy on the still unnamed driver to see if it would provide further information on how the crash occurred.
"The train accident was caused by excess speed," said Garcia.
"There's no explanation, so we suspect the train driver might have passed out or suffered some sort of illness which stopped him reacting."
Valencia's train drivers' union, which said earlier it suspected poor maintenance caused the accident, accepted yesterday that the train had been going too fast on a dangerous curve.
Cesar Hernandez, echoing other survivors of the crash, told Spanish media on Monday the train had accelerated then braked suddenly before the crash.
Another, unnamed survivor told local media that terrified passengers had shouted "An attack, an attack," recalling the Islamist militant bombings of four trains in Madrid in 2004 in which 191 people were killed and hundreds more injured.
The government has ruled out a terrorist attack as the cause of Monday's Valencia crash.
The dead included an Argentine, a Paraguayan, a Colombian, a Venezuelan and a Bulgarian, officials said. King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero attended a funeral mass for the dead in the city's cathedral on Tuesday.
Zapatero cut short a trip to India to fly to Valencia, which is preparing for a visit by Pope Benedict on Saturday.
Valencia's authorities announced compensation of ?30,000-60,000 for each of the dead. They said all safety procedures had been in place on the underground line, which was opened in 1988. The train was inspected on June 27. Survivors described smashing windows to stagger out into a tunnel littered with the dead and injured.
"I closed my eyes. I didn't want to see what was happening," said 65-year-old Arturo Terol.
Forty-seven people were injured in the crash and two remained in a critical condition yesterday.